Mikel Arteta says upcoming home matches with Crystal Palace and Newcastle will be key in deciding Arsenal’s Premier League fate this season.
Despite being in 11th place, the Gunners, off the back of three consecutive wins in the league, are now just six points adrift of the Champions League places.
While challenging for a top-four place seemed fanciful just before Christmas, it’s now not out of the question.
That said, with a very tough run of fixtures on the horizon, the boss admits it’s vital his players continue to build momentum.
Facing the press on Monday morning, Arteta said: “There’s a lot of games coming up now, some important ones as well.
“We need to get our home form established, we’ve had some issues there and now it’s time to get some wins.
“We’ve got two at home right now that are going to be key for the future of our season in the Premier League and the team is in great spirits. Obviously, after four wins everything looks better and we’re looking forward to the games.”
He added: “We want to keep that consistency and having the belief that we can go into every game having the feeling that we are going to win it.
“The more games we are able to win the better that feeling is going to be. Obviously, to start thinking more about the table in a different direction, if you are able to win these matches your mind starts to look in a much more positive way.”
While it’s important not to underestimate the threat of Crystal Palace and Newcastle, who proved tough opponents in the FA Cup at the weekend, it’s hard not to look ahead to a series of make-or-break games that start with a visit to high-flying Southampton.
In the space of six weeks, we’ll face the Saints, Manchester United, Wolves, Aston Villa, Leeds, Manchester City and Leicester in the league. Chuck in an FA Cup fifth round match and a Europa League double-header with Benfica and you can understand why the boss is so keen to get points on the board.
“I think the next two games are crucial to see the direction that we are taking and to reinforce all the things that we have improved on and the results that we are having recently,” he said. “We will know much more I think after the next two games.”